Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The Secret History of the American Empire: The Truth About Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and How to Change the World by John Perkins (Audio Book)

October 2, 2008

From Publishers Weekly
Having made a splash with Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Perkins offers similarly entertaining but disturbing accounts of the American government wreaking havoc around the world in support of American business. In Perkins’s view, American presidents willingly comply with their CEO masters, distributing foreign aid to corrupt Third World leaders who keep a share and return the rest to U.S. business for major projects, leaving their nations poor and massively in debt, and requiring more loans and slavish obedience to U.S. policy. If any leader objects, the CIA destabilizes his government, by assassination if necessary. Gathering evidence is not Perkins’s strong suit. Typically, a shadowy figure pulls him aside, insists on anonymity, then reveals all. Critics will rightfully accuse Perkins of dreadful journalism and a taste for conspiracy theories. Yet economists admit that loans and “expert advice” to poor nations are often harmful. Few deny that America has ruthlessly undermined uncooperative governments and supported dictators including Saddam Hussein. Perkins’s assertions that the U.S. assassinated Ecuador’s reformist president and connived at genocide in Timor and Sudan are not absurd, merely unproven. This book’s greatest value may be to encourage a competent journalist to cover the same ground.

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Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond (Audio Book)

October 1, 2008

From Publishers Weekly
In the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond chronicled the rise of human civilizations since the Ice Age. This time, he turns over the log and probes the rotted side–the demise of once-productive societies such as the Maya, Easter Islanders and Greenland Norse. He also sounds the alarm on environmental practices undermining modern societies, including China, Russia, Australia and the United States. Narrator Murney has his work cut out for him, even though this audiobook is abridged. The narrative, which spans the globe and the ages, is dense, overwhelmingly so at times. Diamond parses myriad ecological, geographical and biological impacts, from weather patterns to deforestation to sperm count. But Murney rises to the occasion. His engagement never flags, and he strikes all the proper notes of concern and warning. The delivery feels effortless, his tone a blend of newsreel narrator and professor-at-the-lectern. Diamond teaches geography at UCLA, and his prose style, unsurprisingly, contains shades of the lecture hall. In fact, given such abundant and oft-alarming information, listeners may feel the urge to take notes for the final exam. Though grounding materials such as photographs and maps would have made this audiobook easier to follow, their absence is a minor fault in an overall fine production.

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Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (E-Book)

October 1, 2008

Amazon.com Review
Explaining what William McNeill called The Rise of the West has become the central problem in the study of global history. In Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond presents the biologist’s answer: geography, demography, and ecological happenstance. Diamond evenhandedly reviews human history on every continent since the Ice Age at a rate that emphasizes only the broadest movements of peoples and ideas. Yet his survey is binocular: one eye has the rather distant vision of the evolutionary biologist, while the other eye–and his heart–belongs to the people of New Guinea, where he has done field work for more than 30 years.

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